My Favourite Christmas Products ( So Far)

Yes, yes, yes I know it’s only October, but I will not be apologising for the fact that I LOVE Christmas. I really do, and since having mini me I has become even more magical, but I can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with food allergies and intolerances, so I thought I’d share with you lovely lot my favourite products so far- gone on confess it you’ve bought some things to??

This year ( so far) I’ve been really excited by this panettone (£3) from Tesco. I can here coeliacs everywhere rejoice. I’ve tried it- for the sake of my followers, and it doesn’t disappoint, it really is lovely. My only downside is it’s quite small for the price, but hey it’s Christmas. Sainsbury’s are also doing a larger panettone for around £14 but I’ve yet to locate and try one. I’ll keep you posted.

Also from Tesco, and another gluten free find is this Black Forest wreath. At £5 it looks great and will feed a whole lot of guests with no effort. Sadly it does carry a nut warning though ( boo) so will probably not be on my Christmas table

My one last exciting find in Tesco is their Christmas pudding, mainly because it covers so many free from categories including nut and dairy free. As to what it tastes like, in all honesty I don’t know, it’s firmly on my to try list.

My other exciting find is this pretty dairy free chocolate box from M&S although at £8 it’s expensive. It also carries a nut warning despite Kinnerton making the chocolate- don’t worry we are keeping on at them to change it. However it would make a great gift or after dinner treat.

Other things to look out for is the gluten free and vegan mince pie and Christmas cake from Costa, and well as a very cute dairy free chocolate penguin from Asda.

Fear not I’ll update this post when I find things.

Nb- this is not a sponsored post. Just my honest opinion.

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Shop Local- My Top 5 Local finds

Hello to you all, a bit of a different spin for my blogmas day 2 post.

I thought today I’d share with you my top five Local food and drink delights that are close to my home town of Stratford upon Avon. When I can I do try to support local businesses, I know they can cost a few more pennies ( sometimes) but the quality is often tons better and you are helping such things like a family business to make a living- every one’s a winner.

So who makes my top 5 ( in no particular order)?

1. Monsoon EstatesA family run business fronted by Anne and Chris who roast and sell the BEST coffee. This is an actual fact. My personal favourites are Papa New Guinea Enorga and the Monsoon Malabar. Both dark roasts with such smooth flavours that work well in lattes and cappuccinos and espresso shot as well. I really recommend you try a flavour.

2. Wilde Nuts Located in the heart of Stratford this company sells nuts, raw granolas and trial mixes and some gorgeous vegan fudge. All gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. ( I obviously have a stash at work, well away from mini me).

3. Paxston & whitefield – Cheese, cheese and more cheese. I know not strictly an independent as they were founded in London and have about 4-5 shops, but one of those is in the town, and has been for as long as I can remember. They also stock locally made cheeses. All are delicious- The Stilton and Shropshire Blue being my top picks. This is a must for my Christmas cheese board.

4. Weston On Avon Farm shop. This really is a hidden gem. All our veg that we don’t grow ourselves comes from here. A family farm selling out of a converted garage. Often the produce is picked fresh from the field. You can guess where my winter vegetables are coming from.

5. Shakespeare Distillery Another local business, the creators of the Stratford Gin and about 4 miles away from my home. G&T is one of my favourite tipples, and this is one of my Christmas drink staples.

So there you have my round up of my top 5 Local food and drink suppliers. Have you tried any of these products? If so let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. All views are my own.

Appy Kids Company Juice Review and Competition. 


See all this in the picture above? It could be yours but we will get to that later.

You may ( or may not) know that I have a munchkin, and I may have commented on the fact she loves Peppa pig and Paw Patrol once or twice.  I know I’m not on my own, most children go through a Peppa stage I think.

Anyway the lovely people over at Appy Kids Co contacted us asking if we would like to try these juices, not only that we have collaborated to offer you all the chance to try them to. If you hadn’t guessed already Appy Kids sell licensed character juice drinks, which are made with natural ingredients and in ranges such as Peppa, The Gruffalo, Minions and Paw Patrol.


We had the Orange Paw Patrol pouches and mixed berry Peppa cartons to try. They are all much lower in sugar, (see Here for typical ingredients list) suitable for most diets and contain added vitamins as well.  I was happy for LR to try these, I’m always conscious of sugar content, in terms of teeth health and diet but 3.75g per 100 MLS is around about what these drinks are, which is so much better than some on the market- it’s a win for mums, and kids alike.

So how to they taste? Im Pleased to say LR liked both, her favourite is Paw Patrol ( I suspect Chase on the front has something to do with it). Mind you she drank both and has gone back for more on different days. I take this as a positive- wild horses would not make her eat or drink something she doesn’t like. Her only criticism was that Rubble was missing from the front of the carton, but taste wise it’s all good. 

For research obviously I had a few sips to. Both are very tasty and refreshing. I like the fact they don’t leave that horrid artificial after taste in your mouth.  They don’t cause a sugar rush after either, so that alone is a thumb up from me. Perfect for the back to school lunch boxes.  ( yeah I know 5 wks- you’ve got this).

So how can you get your hands on this great prize of:

  • 3 x 5-pack of Paw Patrol Juice Drink Pouches
  • 3 x 3-pack of Peppa Pig Fruit Drink Cartons
  • 1 x Peppa Pig 9in1 Bumper Puzzle Pack by JUMBO GAMES

That is easy just follow the instructions in the box below ( just click the link) 

Winner will be drawn at random next week. Good luck to you all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Barley Cup Review and Recipe Ideas

What is this I hear you ask?  Well I was intrigued to, and therefore very excited when the lovelies at  Barleycup offered me some to try out. With Barley in the name I was a little skeptical to whether it was gluten free, but guess what ( and rejoice ) it is.     

  
In fact this is what Barley Cup say on their website about the products. 

Barleycup is a delicious range of instant gluten-free drinks made from roasted cereals and chicory root. All Barleycup beverages are gluten-free and have been certified by Coeliac UK. A special process is used to separate the gluten and the products are regularly tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that the gluten levels do not exceed 10mg/kg**.

 To start off I thought I’d try It as a drink, 2 teaspoons of Barleycup mixed with just off boiling water, and I added a splash of milk. The verdict is I liked it, the organic and original both taste like a very mild coffee, but without the caffeine. Probably my favourite was the barley cup with dandelion. There is the extra, slightly sweeter flavour that adds to the drink as a whole. Incidently all versions work wonderfully as a latte, and the even bigger news was that the product has not aggravated my coeliac disease what do ever. 

I’ve also been experimenting with recipes using Barleycup. Below is my first attempt at a ( sort of) gluten free, nut free and dairy free malt loaf. Now it’s been years since I’ve had soreen, I can’t really remember the taste but I do remember the ‘squidge’. I’ve got to play one more time to go for the squidge factor but the taste is amazing ( sorry slight blow of own trumpet ). I promise as soon as its perfected the recipe will be up on this post. 

  

Other ideas I’ve had are mocha type smoothie and chia seed pudding. I’ll keep you posted on how they go. 

So would I recommend Barleycup? You bet I would, it’s a gluten free, caffeine free drink that tastes delicious and is proving to be versatile in its uses as well. Thumbs up all round. 

  
Disclaimer: Barleycup sent me these products to try, all thoughts and ideas are entirely my own. 

Review Schar Viennese Biscuits ( Gluten Free) 

  
  

  I was walking through Morrisons the other day. They have had a rebrand of their free from range, and increased the number of lines in the ranges as well. Hooray I hear you all cry. Fro the record I’m really impressed with the gluten free curly fries at £1 but anyway I’ve digressed somehow. 

Whilst perusing the shelves I noticed these Viennese biscuits from Schar. I can vaguely remember in my BCD ( Before Coeliac Disease ) days that M&S did a Viennese Whirl that was amazing, so I was keen to try these to see if they sparked any memories. 

  
So the packet states a melt in the mouth biscuit- these don’t disappoint. They have a lovely vanilla taste, that does ( without sounding corny) melt in the mouth, tasting rather like a buttery shortbread  Incidently they fair ok in a dunk test as well.  That little gem of info is gorgeous those of you, who like me, are partial to the odd dunk in your brew. 

I did pimp them a little and created a proper Viennese sandwhich with strawberry jam and buttercream,  this really did the justice. My confession is that they were maybe eaten before any photos were taken- oops. I promise I’ll update the post later. 

My only down side is the May contain Lupin warning as little one, or indeed a few of those with peanut allergies,  can’t have them. In all other ways they are a lovely, tasty biscuit with a good crunch. Perfect for  those days when rice cakes just won’t cut the mustard. 

Have you tried these? Or any of the other new ranges from Schar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

  

Review- Gluten Free Toad in The Hole 

  Hello to you all, I hope the first week back wasn’t too difficult? All great this end I’m just hoping for snow at the end of the week. In my best Elsa voice I WANT to build a snowman. 

Anyway I was thinking its a new year, so a new review wouldn’t go amiss. Wondering through my local Morrisons the other day I spotted this gluten free Toad in the Hole in the frozen section. At £1.97 I thought I’d give it a go. 

  
 It’s easy to cook, from frozen and straight in the oven, great if you need  a dinner in a hurry. I have to say the portion size is very generous as well, my negatives is that it is high in fats so would only be a once in a while thing for me. I served mine with vegetables and onion gravy 

  
  This is a product of 2 halves. 1 that is really quite tasty, and the other that really is not. I enjoyed the sausages, they had a good hint of pepper for a warming kick and appeared to have a high meat content which gives a great texture. I also enjoyed the crispy Yorkshire that had risen round the sausages, it was light and airy with a good crunch. Sadly that’s where it ended. 

  

  My main moan is that the texture of the Yorkshire pudding under the sausages was very dense and stodgy, the taste was pleasant enough but I struggled with slab like pudding and gave up on it in the end. It’s a shame, and I realise that without gluten you struggle to get a good rise, but it is possible with a Yorkshire Isabel’s  is excellent and Tesco free from mix gets my thumbs up as well. 

  So my overall verdict, a mediocre meal that in fairness I won’t be buying again, but it is a handy freezer meal if you are in a rush and need  something to eat. 

Have you tried this, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below. 

Cuddle Fairy

Review- Tesco Free From Instant Rice Noodles

I’ve never been a pot noodle fan, but in fairness it’s been so long now I cannot remember what they taste like. ( I’m assuming I’m not missing much?)  so I was a bit skeptical when I noticed these new instant rice noodle pots in Tesco Free From range the other day, but I was in a rush and thought well why not?

  
  They seemed ok for the fat and sugar content, so not too bad for a quick lunch on the go. It’s easy to prepare-empty contents into pot, pour on water, put lid on and then leave for 4 minutes et voila. 

I was amazed, the cardboard like noodles had transformed into long ribbons of rice noodle, that in fairness looked quite appealing, in a lazy sort of way. 

My tip is give it a good stir, my first mouthful was horrid, it just tasted bland, but a good mix brings out the flavour. The curry isn’t like a cheap  curry sauce flavour either, there is spice, and heat. It’s warming and satisfying all in a mouthful. 

  
I have to say I’m impressed, and although I would not want to eat them all the time, as a quick and satisfying lunch option these pots are very good. It’s encouraging to find a savoury product in a free from range that covers other allergies to – these are also dairy free. So thumbs up Tesco, keep up the good work. 

Review Newburn BakeHouse Crumpets

It’s fair to say that this year has seen the launch of a whole host of new free from products. I’m not complaining, more choice is always a good thing. I was quite excited to hear the Newburn BakeHouse ( the gluten free side of Warburtons) were launching a new crumpet. 

  
Now along with trying to perfect my own, I’m not there yet but bear with me, the other crumpets out there are M&S (horrid) and Genius ( taste ok but funny texture) so I was wondering what are these going to be like. I mean in my head the bar was fairly high as I love Newburns artisan loaves so I’d assumed these would be the same high standard. The texture is very similar to their ordinary crumpets, and they toasted well, I personally like my crumpet crispy ( no puns please) so double toasted it, and went old school with just butter on. They are hands down the best I’ve tasted. They are like actually proper crumpets, no crumbly texture or stodgy mass but a proper tasty breakfast or teatime treat. 

  
  My only fault is they are expensive £2 for 4 crumpets but it’s matched with genius and given the choice between the two I’d be picking these. So would I buy them again- too right but I’ll be hiding them from the other half or he’d scoff them all in an instant. I should add they are available from Tesco and Sainsburys stores. 

Disclaimer: I purchased these myself, all views are my own and honest. 

Rana’s Artisan Bread 

  
Psst… See the loaf in the picture? Well I (Mrs usually bakes doorstops) baked it. I’ll get back to the beginning. I have the honour of becoming a brand representative for Ranas’ Artisan Bakery.  If you haven’t heard about them, they offer both baked goods and bread mixes to bake at home. The added bonus is that not only are these all gluten free, but free from the dairy, eggs, nuts and soya to. 

 So anyway I was sent a bread mix to play with- Bold Buckwheat. I’ve never been fantastic with bread making, and gluten free versions even less so, however I was optimistic as the packaging stated “just add water”. Easy enough I thought, although the funny porridge like texture of the dough I was left with did have me wondering, but never the less carry on I did ( the very clear instruction sheet helped a great deal) 

Next step is to leave the dough for 5 minutes, then stir for 1 minute before shaping your loaf on the grease proof paper provided ( a wet spatula helps). 

  
Once shaped, pop your loaf into the bag and seal, then leave to prove for an hour. Now I was worried, you can’t see through the bag and it didn’t seem to rise much , again back to the instructions which reassured me to not expectd too much of a rise, -panick averted. 
Then pop into the oven and bake for 90 minutes. It said best results with non fan oven. I’ve only got a fan oven so I thought I’d give it a go anyway. It was fine, but I’d be interested to hijack my mums aga and try in there to compare. 

  
You then have to left it Cool completely on a wire rack and bat off little (and big) hands until it does so but believe me it’s worth the wait. I was very impressed with the first attempt. It has a strong tang to it, which I loved ( even tiny tot went in for seconds) and toasted either for breakfast or as bruschetta is is delicious. I can even see it going well with our Christmas cheese board. 

 So my over all verdict is that I’m very impressed with this mix. My only slightly negative comment is the £3.99  Price tag, which does put them at the top end of gluten free artisan loaves but you do get what you pay for, it tastes lovely, has the best crust on any gluten free loaf I’ve tasted, and free from multiple allergens.

Keep reading as I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeves to incorporate these loaves. 

New product- Real Good Tomato Ketchup

  
  It’s no secret I’m fond of ketchup, and I have to admit cutting it out for operation wedding dress has been tricky.  You know a bacon sandwich just isn’t the same without it ( unless you’re a brown sauce fan I guess).  

I was really excited when new company  Real Good tomato ketchup followed me on Twitter. They make ketchup (so far) that is gluten free, nut free, reduced sugar and dairy free. This ticks all the boxes in our house, so when a bottle arrived to try out, naturally we dived in ( not literally that would be silly).  

  
  

I like the packaging, it’s simple, clear and the allergy information easy to find. These are all great factors, but the important thing is how does it taste?   

  
It has a more rustic texture than some of the sugar laden counter-parts, due to the fact that its primary ingredient is tomato paste, with this, and due to the fact the sugars are sweetener and naturally occurring  sugar from the tomatoes, the taste edges more towards a tomato purée or passata than a traditionally processed ketchup. Now this is not a bad point, I love it ( although your die hard junk food lover may not) 

This ketchup works so well with meats, and vegetables alike. I’ve also used it as a secret ingredient in a tomato/ basil pasta sauce and it was a winner all round. Would I recommend it? Yes I would, it’s less sugar and calories with a more authentic taste, what’s not to like? The ultimate judge (mini me ) even went in for seconds, which in this current fussy phase is a triumph. So well done Real Good, more of the same please. Currently this is available from Amazon, but I believe more stockiests will be added soon-watch this space. 

Disclaimer: I was sent this product to try, all views are my own and my honest opinion. The tiny tot’s views are most definitely honest – at 3 there is no other way.